My attention to Twitter has been sporadic for the past several weeks and, man, has that been good. The less I’m on it, the less tolerance I have for its hot take mentality. Too many tweets are designed to outrage or incite. Too many people distort or lie with relative impunity. While it has a wealth of good information and even good conversations, mentally filtering out the trash is tiresome and draining.
I’ll admit, I took my semi-hiatus from Twitter at the same time Trump left the presidency. It has been remarkable how much head space the man took up. Getting him off of social media immediately brought down the country’s anxiety level. He created a massive reactionary country on both the right and left and Twitter was the perfect vehicle for causing dissention and disunity.
And while not having to listen to Trump’s constant stream of inflammatory bullshit has certainly brought down the temperature, the Biden administration gets credit for taking the presidency off of social media and restoring some of its dignity and decorum. While conservatives and pundits have decried the lack of a presidential press conference, the rest of the country is just glad they don’t have to think about the president every moment of every day. The administration’s approach just highlights how much the Trump presidency was about the man and not the office.
Instead of visiting Twitter every day, I’ve been visiting Lowe’s, Home Depot, salvage business supplies stores, and more than a few thrift stores. The only mention of politics I heard was the guy at the paint store and a seventy-plus year-old customer talking in hushed voices about how Jill Biden is actually the unelected President of the United States. She’s calling all of the shots because Joe is not up to the job. I haven’t even seen that rumor on Twitter but it’s almost surely floating around conspiracy-addled right-wing media.
And while I haven’t heard much political banter in the construction world, I saw it this weekend, even if nobody thought it was politics. The traffic going into New Hope Commons, a Durham shopping center anchored by a Walmart and Best Buy, looked like Christmas. I was just trying to get past them on one of my back routes to avoid crowded highways and had to wait through two lights to get across 15-501. Those $1,400 checks and shots in arms are sending people out shopping for the first time in a year. The 70 degree day probably helped as the beginning of spring ended the 12-month winter. Still, I saw hope and optimism in a country that hasn’t felt much of either for a long while. That’s the policies of Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress leading the country out of the fever swamp of the Trump administration and COVID.
The politics of the real world is better than the politics of the virtual world. The banter in the Habitat ReStore centered on the price or quality of salvage building materials. People who almost certainly differed in their politics could agree on what was a good deal and what was not. They offered each other unsolicited opinions without insults or acrimony. It’s almost enough to keep me off Twitter for good.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >